A look at Liverpool's recent run of attacking tridents: from Suarez to Salah

Former Liverpool boss Rodgers and current Liverpool gaffer Klopp.
Sudarshan Venkatesan

Every football fan would love to witness their team flourishing and scoring an absurd number of goals. Under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool is doing just that, showcasing the brilliance of counter-attacking football, especially with the lethal triumvirate in Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane who have scored 68 goals this season between them with more than two months of football left.

Liverpool in previous decades usually had one reliable striker in front of goal, from the club's all-time leading scorer, Ian Rush to strikers like Robbie Fowler & Michael Owen. We shall look at the transition in Liverpool's front line over the last 4 years.

#5 SSS (Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling) 2013-14; 66 Goals

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Suarez, Sturridge, and Sterling were a fearsome attacking trident in the 2013-14 season

The club's sensational performances in the 2013-14 season under Brendan Rodgers was about Luis Suarez alongside Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling combining to tear up opposing defences. Sturridge scored 23 goals and was second on the top scorers list only to Suarez who netted an incredible 31 goals that season to win the Golden Boot.

It was deemed as one of the most fearsome attacks in the world at that moment in time as the chemistry between those three was phenomenal, though they did not get to play for more than one and a half season together.

Since then, the Uruguayan left the Mersey-siders for Barcelona in 2014. A year later, young prodigy Sterling earned himself a transfer to Manchester City and Sturridge is currently on loan at West Bromwich Albion until end of the season.

Sturridge's future at Liverpool is in doubt after falling down the pecking order under Klopp and it is likely the Reds will cash in on the former Chelsea man.

#4 BBL (Balotelli, Borini, Lambert) 2014-15 ; 8 Goals

Liverpool's strike force comprised of Balotelli, Lambert, and Borini a year later.

Brendan Rodgers wanted the likes of Radamel Falcao and Carlos Tevez to replace Luis Suarez at Anfield, but he had to settle for the controversial Balotelli. The Italian from day one never really settled into Liverpool's philosophy, netting just 4 times throughout that season.

Lambert was thriving at Southampton before he signed for his childhood club Liverpool, but he failed to make an impact playing second fiddle to Sturridge and Balotelli. Eventually, West Bromwich Albion showed an interest in the English striker and wrapped up a deal in 2015.

Fabio Borini was another option available to Rodgers. The Italian's development got hampered when he suffered a metatarsal fracture in 2012 and never really picked up the same pace. He failed to make a mark that season, these three strikers scored a low total of 8 goals that year.

On the other hand, Sturridge spent most of the season on the treatment table and made just 18 appearances, 8 of them coming off the bench.

The Irish manager was forced to play teenager Sterling as a striker for the majority of the season while Philippe Coutinho and Lazar Markovic were the other two playing through the left and right wing respectively.

#3 CFO (Coutinho, Firmino, Origi) 2015-16; 33 goals

Origi and Coutinho were among the main men this season
Origi and Coutinho were among the main men that season

Brendan Rodgers was in search of offensive players in the summer transfer window. Christian Benteke, Danny Ings, and Roberto Firmino were the new attacking arrivals at Liverpool. Whereas, Divock Origi returned to England after his one year loan stint came to an end at Lille.

Expectations started to swell as Liverpool signed these stars but, Brendan Rodgers failed to produce results despite all the spending spree. After months of frustration, Fenway Sports Group decided to discontinue Rodgers' service and managed to lure Jurgen Klopp to the red side of Merseyside.

Danny Ings who scored the last goal for Brendan Rodgers, tore his anterior cruciate ligament during Klopp's first training session. The German had enough options to shuffle between Benteke, Origi, and Sturridge, but Klopp preferred the Belgian over the other two.

Christian Benteke was never going to fit into Rodgers' and Klopp's style of play whereas Sturridge's plummet in pace meant the German opted for Divock Origi. Coutinho and Firmino interchanged on the flanks often to trouble opponents alongside the former Lille striker, scoring double figures that season.

There were plenty of inconsistent runs that season and the lack of pace needed for counter attacks hurt the Anfield side when opponents sat back and defended deep. The former Borussia Dortmund manager somehow steered Liverpool into the League Cup and Europa League finals.

#2 CFM (Coutinho, Firmino, Mane) 2016-17; 39 Goals

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Coutinho, Firmino, and Mane were Liverpool's front three last season.

Jurgen Klopp rectified the problem and signed Sadio Mane from Southampton. From day one, the Senegalese international started to terrorize defenders with his breakneck pace and had sufficient end product which is crucial for any forward. The Brazilian's Firmino and Coutinho combined to score 26 goals and the new signing Mane netted 13 goals that season.

The front three consisted of Roberto Firmino as a false 9, Coutinho and Mane on the flanks. Jurgen Klopp's front three combined well with midfielders Georgino Wijnaldum, Emre Can and Adam Lallana who were chipping in goals too.

Despite scoring a whole lot of goals and conceding plenty at the other end, the Reds only managed to get enough points on board until January when Sadio Mane left for the African Cup of nations. The Reds bowed out of the League Cup, FA Cup and Premier League title race within a span of 15 days. Liverpool then managed to grind out results and finish in the top 4 for the second time in 8 years.

#1 FMS (Firmino, Mane, Salah) 2017-18; 68 Goals (and counting)

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Firmino, Mane and Salah.

Liverpool's first signing of the season, Mohamed Salah hit the ground running from day one under the German manager. He scored his first goal for the Reds upon his return to the Premier League against Watford. Since then, he has been breaking individual records for fun with his goal scoring spree.

Thierry Henry's take on Mohamed Salah,"There are no step-overs, there’s no trying to nutmeg, there are no skills for no reason. He’s going at you, if you’re ready or not that’s your problem".

Roberto Firmino's work rate and tackling are crucial to Salah and Mane's freedom to roam around the pitch. Not only that, the Brazilian is having his best goal scoring season since 2013-14 season when he ended up with 23 goals at Hoffenheim. These kind of footballers are pretty rare to come by, they are hardworking irrespective of the score line.

The Arsenal legend was also in full praise of Roberto Firmino after his back heel assist to Salah against Southampton,"You're always going to be behind in terms of thinking. It's perfect. I would have liked to play with this guy".

Firmino's relentless hardwork, Salah's ability to find the back of the net and Mane's holdup play is paying off for Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp has put in enormous work to get the best wide players and to bring the best out of Bobby Firmino. They have the capability to swarm past any defence in the world currently.

The club is moving in the right direction by getting rid of average players and bringing players in who fit the system perfectly. If Liverpool can hold onto these three players for years to come, they will ease past many records and help the Reds win lots of silverware.

Edited by Anthony Akatugba Jr.


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